SEATTLE – There will be a unique trait shared by the members of the Washington Huskies’ tailbacks this week.
That is: They’re all tailbacks, and tailbacks only.
After using linebacker Shaq Thompson as the team’s primary ballcarrier the past three weeks – and with Dwayne Washington and Lavon Coleman banged up, Thompson was clearly the best option – the Huskies have moved Thompson back to his starting linebacker position and will actually rely on their running backs to run the ball on Saturday at No. 17 Arizona.
It will likely be a three-pronged approach. Fifth-year senior Deontae Cooper has been productive with his few touches this season, averaging 5.3 yards on 43 carries. Washington, a sophomore, returned last week from a chest injury and rushed for 33 yards on seven carries, including a 12-yard touchdown run.
“We’ve got to do a better job of making explosive runs, and continue to find away, and there’s going to be a breakthrough,” said Cooper, who missed the first three years of his UW career because of three knee injuries. “We’ve been doing a better job the last couple weeks.”
Coleman, a redshirt freshman, hasn’t played since injuring his shoulder against Oregon on Oct. 18. His 438 rushing yards rank second on the team, just behind Thompson’s total of 456. Thompson achieved that number on 61 carries and Coleman still leads the team 106 attempts.
“I think both of those kids (Coleman and Washington) are really hitting their stride as far as game-time, being ready to go, and going in there and doing some things,” running backs coach Keith Bhonapha said.
Bhonapha said he isn’t sure if Thompson will get any carries on Saturday, but that “I feel good about my group. All this focus has been on Shaq, him going in there and what he’s been able to do, which has been exciting. With that being said, I think one of the things that has failed to be talked about is, Coop has been productive every time he’s gotten the ball and gotten a chance.”
Coleman, Washington and Cooper have combined this season for 219 carries and 937 yards – an average of 4.3 yards per carry.
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